With its chunky casing, this laptop is promising to be tougher than a metal-plated armadillo. Does it live up to the hype?
With the looks of a journeyman boxer after twelve punishing rounds, the Panasonic CF-T7 is one ugly laptop.
But winning beauty contests isn’t what this machine is about. It’s supposed to be built to take the knocks that would leave normal computers in the recycle skip.
A magnesium alloy casing and a shock mounted hard drive are two features that make it tougher than the average lappie, but the ugly looks are also there for a reason.
When folded shut, the CF-T7 looks chunky, with a thickened central portion to the lid, intended to protect the screen. It’s also wedge shaped with thicker bodywork to protect the internals. This isn’t just protective but functional, giving a very comfortable typing position.
Panasonic claims that the CF-T7 will survive a fall from a height of 76 cm, even while operating. We pushed one off a desk that was slightly lower than that, but it didn’t quite survive intact. The weak point was the screen hinge: a sliver of plastic snapped off and the CF-T7 was KO’ed.
That said, many other laptops would have been in far more pieces and at least the hard disk was still intact so it would be possible to retrieve any data.
Apart from the fact that ours didn’t completely survive a fall, there are other features that would protect the CF-T7 from the rigours of clumsy use.
Panasonic claims you can empty a 200 ml glass of water over the keypad and it will just flow away through drainage channels without fusing the electronics.
One of the most useful features is also the most basic. A rubberised anti-slip band on the bottom stops the CF-T7 sliding off sloping surfaces.
It also doubles up as a useful grab-strap so you can grip it in one hand and type away while standing up. Simple but highly effective, this strap is something that all laptops could benefit from.
With a 1.2Ghz Intel Core 2 processor, 1GB RAM and a shock-resistant 80GB hard-drive as standard, it’s a solid if unspectacular Windows workhorse too. Just don’t push it off too many tables.
Panasonic CF-T7 Toughbook review
Not quite as rugged as it claims to be according to our tests, but can still take a tumble better than most laptops